EDITORIAL: Abbotsford city hall faces fiscal realities

Abbotsford finds itself with shallow capital reserve funds, and heavily committed to some major red-ink undertakings

Mayor Bruce Banman says he supports the concept of a YMCA facility in Abbotsford.

In principle, the idea certainly has merit. Another pool, and more recreational opportunities would be worthwhile investments for the future, particularly considering the YMCA is proposing a funding partnership.

Such an agreement would see the estimated $35-million price tag split between that organization and the city, with the YMCA taking responsibility for operating costs.

Under different circumstances, this should be a slam-dunk for Abbotsford.

However, due to decisions in recent years, this city finds itself with shallow capital reserve funds, and heavily committed to some major red-ink undertakings – namely the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, and the AHL hockey team that calls it home.

Those two entities cost taxpayers about $3 million annually, with not much relief on the horizon.

In addition to that is just over $5 million in payments on the $85 million borrowed to build the AESC. Civic taxes climbed considerably to undertake that project, and they’ve continued to rise since.

As important, if not more so, is the fact that Abbotsford also faces major capital projects in upcoming years, including a new water source and sewer treatment expansion and upgrading, both with huge price tags and potentially further tax increases.

Mayor Banman says he’ll listen to input from his constituents on the YMCA proposal.

We expect many taxpayers will urge city decisions to reflect fiscal realities, and that would be wise counsel indeed.